Eleven quarterbacks are listed among the NFL's top 12 biggest contracts, according to the league’s website, so it was little surprise Cam Newton was on the verge of joining them with a five-year contract worth $100 million.
Newton would join Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Drew Brees among players averaging $20 million per year in salary. Eighteen players are making $1 million or more per game, on average.
Tom Brady isn’t among the NFL’s top 20 highest-paid players even though the four-time Super Bowl winner is widely considered the best quarterback of his generation. Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick is making $19 million per season.
We’re so accustomed to seeing big contracts that we’ve almost become immune. It’s easy to lose perspective. Twenty-nine years ago, people were floored when Jim Kelly became the NFL’s richest quarterback with a five-year deal worth $8 million. He made $28.7 million in his career, according to spotrac.com.
So what does $20 million mean? In Buffalo, you can buy a very nice house for $400,000. If you took home $20 million, you could buy 50 such houses. That’s a development in the suburbs.
And that’s one only season.
If we apply last season’s statistics to his expected average salary, Newton would have made (before taxes, of course):
- $1.42 million per game
- $2.857 million per win
- $76,335 per completion
- $6,395 per passing yard
- $1.11 million per touchdown pass
- $37,105 per rushing yard
Newton was 21st in passing yardage, 19th in touchdown passes, 31st in completion percentage among quarterbacks with at least 100 completions and 32nd in passer rating among QBs with more than 100 attempts.
This is nothing against Newton, who most would agree is a good quarterback. But he played in a grand total of three playoffs games and lost two. He led the NFL is one passing category – yards per completion in 2012 – over his first four NFL seasons. He led his team to only one winning season.
How does that equate to $20 million per season? How does Brady make $14.8 million last year, which was less than Andy Dalton? And what does it mean for Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson when their rookie contracts expire?
They could be making $25 million, maybe $30 million. But what’s the difference? We’re only talking about $5 million – or $96,153 per week.